Zombification: The Living Dead in Spam

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

Zombification describes computational processes of production, addressing the mutable quality of automation. Spam consists of mutating identities. It is continuously and seamlessly produced yet temporarily exists in the network through computation. This temporal existence of the living dead, as I argue, encompasses code automation – an undead and repetitive writing process where a parameters’ value is constantly mutating. However, zombification does not only examine the technical dimension of computational processes. This paper tries to articulate the mutable quality at the coding layer, examining its surrounding forces, such as the interface format of a mail server and an email address, the consumption techniques of email addresses, the parameters and values of a software program, and the repetitiveness and undeadness of writing. Thinking from such material and technical aspects of spam, particularly mutability, we gain a better understanding of spam culture that is associated with its mutating identity, including regulatory controls, loopholes, labour practices, digital consumption and datafication. The computational process of such automated production is part of spam culture that has been somewhat overlooked. Production of spam entails not only automation but also the characteristic of mutability. Through the artwork Hello zombies, the critical and aesthetic possibilities of zombification are demonstrated to address the ever-changing datafied phenomenon of digital culture. Indeed, the idea of zombification could be extended to other kinds of software activities that produce quantified data through automated, mutable and programmable machines for qualitative ends.

(Source: Author's Abstract)

Pull Quotes: 

With respect to spam production, it does not come from one machine: many of them are running continuously in the Internet, generating quantified data like a zombie herd.

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Alvaro Seica